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Pastor Ralph Rebandt challenges Dixon pick for Lieutenant Governor

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Ralph Rebandt says he can still win the Michigan Republican Party's nomination for lieutenant governor, despite not being the pick of the party's nominee for governor, Tudor Dixon.

A former Republican candidate for governor is challenging the GOP primary winner’s preferred running mate for a spot on the party’s ticket.

On Friday, Tudor Dixon announced she’d like former state Rep. Shane Hernandez to be her lieutenant governor if she wins in November’s general election.

Dixon and Hernandez both have endorsements from former President Donald Trump.

Despite that, Pastor Ralph Rebandt said he still can win the nomination at the Republican party’s convention this weekend.

“Many of the grassroots were surprised at [Trump’s] pick for Tudor … Those folks happen to be delegates who are extremely engaged, know what’s going on, and those delegates have a different mindset than the general population does,” Rebandt said Tuesday.

While Michigan voters pick major party gubernatorial candidates via a primary process, nominating convention delegates get final say over who runs for lieutenant governor.

Republican party rules call for a voice vote at the convention to see who gets that nomination.

“In the event the voice vote is unclear, the Convention Chair shall call for a recorded vote and the Party shall make available paper ballots to record each delegate’s vote in candidate elections,” the party’s convention rules read.

Earlier this month, Dixon won a five-way Republican primary with slightly less than 40% of the vote. Rebandt, who finished fifth in that contest, said he’d be able to bridge the gap between her supporters and grassroots factions of the party who may have supported someone else.

“I’m not having to promote myself right now either because the delegates are doing that for me. They’re out there, there’s chatrooms, there are people who are texting me, saying ‘Hey, you know I’ve invited you to this.’ And I get on and there’s a lot of people who are supporting me.”

Rebandt’s decision to enter the race comes as another former gubernatorial candidate, Garrett Soldano, announced he would not seek the lieutenant governor nomination.

The Michigan Republican Party itself says it’s remaining neutral over contested bids.

When asked the impact a nomination battle would have on party unity, GOP spokesperson Gustavo Portela said the party will focus on beating Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer regardless of how the convention goes.

“We believe that, at the end of the day, delegates are going to look and Republicans are going to look at who’s on the ballot,” Portela said. “And we know that whoever emerges, they’re going to be better than Gretchen Whitmer.”

The Dixon campaign is also centering attention on Democratic incumbents up for re-election, including Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

“We hope Pastor Ralph will join us in unifying the party and moving through convention seamlessly and on to defeat Whitmer, Nessel, and Benson in November,” chief strategist James Blair said in a written statement.

For his part, Rebandt maintains his bid is out of a desire for unity.

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